Confessions of a Grown-Up Princess Fan

There's certainly no shame in loving princesses when you're older. However, ever since I entered my 30s, I noticed that there were certain aspects of princesses and fairy tales that I could no longer relate to. I still believe in fighting for what's right and following my heart, but I don't view the world with the same wide-eyed innocence as I did when I was a teenager. Most princesses are roughly 16, and they tend to act their age. When we're younger, everything is new and exciting, and there are infinite possibilities for the future. Our lives may not be the easiest, but we've never been let down or had our heart broken yet. The older I get, the more I understand why queens are often portrayed as dark or evil. Though I still relate to Ariel's passion and desire for freedom, I probably act more like Megara from Hercules or Kida from Atlantis. These animated heroines have been around long enough to see the world for what it is and don't feel the need to smile all the time and sing to the birds about their blissful future.

I try my hardest to live like a modern princess, but I can't help being skeptical when I hear something that sounds too good to be true or meet someone who seems too nice. That isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's just part of growing up. It means that I know better than to accept a poison apple from a stranger or try to touch a spinning wheel or bargain my voice for a chance at love. It also means I get less excited about things that I've already done because they're no longer new or because I'm inherently aware of what might go wrong. For Cinderella, attending the ball was beyond anything she could possibly imagine because she had never been to the palace or seen anything like a royal ball before. When she married the prince, she moved there, and it became her ordinary everyday life. It could no longer be a majestic Shangri-La to her. She had moved beyond that dream and began living it instead of dreaming of it. The same could apply to Ariel idealizing the human world before she became permanently human.

I used to think that the Disney Parks existed in a parallel reality where nothing bad could ever happen and everything was perfect. Then I moved to Florida, and Walt Disney World became part of my everyday life. While I still think it's a terrific place to visit, I've already seen everything there. I can never go back the wide-eyed excitement I felt when I went to visit my favorite characters on a daily basis. Now that I've lived in California for quite some time, I no longer have an annual pass to Disneyland. It's too expensive, and the magic would be lost if I kept going back every month. I didn't always feel this way. Once upon a time, I thought I would never grow tired of visiting. I can't even say I'm tired of it now, but I'm no longer an ingenue. The parks haven't changed, but I have.

I've never been a huge fan of the simplistic world that J.M. Barrie created in Peter Pan. I've always wanted to grow up because it means the freedom to make my own decisions. Princesses usually want the same thing. They are frustrated that they can't leave their towers or choose who they can fall in love with. Now that I'm older, I can understand why a place like Neverland, where no one loses their innocence and nothing becomes mundane, might have such a big appeal. Never growing up might mean never being free, but it also means never getting hurt or becoming hardened to the world. If Cinderella didn't go to the ball and remained in her stepmother's service until she became an old spinster, she would have become a very different person than the hopeful ingenue everyone knows and loves.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's okay to love princesses and still become cynical toward the world. It's impossible to be happy all of the time, and yes, princesses do get angry on occasion. It's wonderful to get excited over seemingly mundane things like forks or pipes because you've never seen them before, but that excitement can't last forever. Even my favorite quote from The 10th Kingdom states:
"When you live every day with all your heart, then you can be happy ever after, even if it's only for a short time."
Happily ever after is what you make it out to be. Once you've already lived out most of your dreams, the ones that still remain become that much more precious.


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